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PTB President Joachim Ullrich awarded Federal Cross of Merit, Class 1

Award celebration for the globally engaged top researcher and scientific manager on 24 May 2017, hosted by Braunschweig's mayor.


He is a top-ranking scientist who unites people and leads them toward success.  This simple formula could be used to explain Professor Dr. Joachim Ullrich's extensive achievements.  The President of the Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB), who is a world-renowned researcher and scientific manager, was awarded the Federal Cross of Merit, class 1, of the Federal Republic of Germany by Braunschweig's mayor Ulrich Markurth. The festive award ceremony took place on 24 May 2017 at 2:30 p.m. in the Great Hall ("Dornse") of Braunschweig’s Old Town Hall.

Joachim Ullrich

Reviewing a few selected stages of Professor Ullrich's career shows that not only his indisputable research success with over 500 publications have earned him this honor but also, above all, his dedication to collaboration between scientists across all borders. Through his strength of purpose, far-sightedness and ability to spread enthusiasm for his cooperation projects, he was able to establish collaborations between different institutions, countries and disciplines and lead them to success.


  • In his 1987 dissertation at Frankfurt University on experiments at the GSI-Helmholtzzentrum für Schwerionenforschung GmbH in Darmstadt and at the accelerators of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Professor Ullrich acquired the experimental foundation for a new type of microscope. Thanks to this microscope, it is possible today for the first time to make nearly all particles of an atomic or molecular reaction visible in high temporal resolution – like in a film. Thus, a measurement method was developed that revolutionized the possibilities to observe dynamic processes in atomic, molecular and laser physics.
  • As the Managing Director at Heidelberg's Max-Planck-Institut für Kernphysik (MPIK, 2002-2006), Joachim Ullrich co-initiated and implemented a new orientation – away from nuclear physics and toward fundamental research in the areas of atomic, molecular and laser physics as well as precision measurements in traps. The MPIK significantly owes its excellent international standing in this field to him. During that time, he also began teaching at Heidelberg University. Through the course of his entire career track, Joachim Ullrich has mentored and inspired an entire school of excellent scientists in the area of atomic and quantum physics who were later hired to work at renowned research institutions and companies.
  • Starting in 2006, Joachim Ullrich was the Head of the Max Planck Advanced Study Group (ASG) at the Hamburg Center for Free Electron Laser Science (CFEL) which is supported by the Max Planck Society, DESY and Hamburg University. As Chairman of the CFEL Management Board, he was able to bring together all participating institutes and establish the CFEL as a leading international institute in short-pulse x-ray laser research along with colleagues from DESY and Hamburg University. Highly brilliant x-ray lasers were used worldwide – not only for physics research but also for the investigation of the structure of complex biomolecules.
  • Joachim Ullrich has established many international collaborations between CFEL researchers and colleagues, especially in Stanford (USA) and Japan. With equipment that was developed by ASG under his leadership, these collaborations were able to produce sensational results for the life sciences, among other things. The CFEL can be viewed today as a prime example of a successful synergy of competencies and research organizations and has drawn some of the best researchers in the world to Hamburg.

Joachim Ullrich has been President of PTB since 2012. In these few years, he has already further enhanced PTB's profile and strategically prepared PTB for the recognizable tasks of the future. The German Council of Science and Humanities, which recently certified PTB with excellent achievements and a "strategic rigor," came to the same conclusion.


Further information:

Professor Dr. Joachim Ullrich's curriculum vitae


Contact at PTB

Dr. Dr. Jens Simon, PTB Press and Information Office, phone: +49 (0)531 592-3005, e-mail: jens.simon@ptb.de